The rationale was simple: I can’t wait any longer to finish a novel and have money coming in. I gotta get a job, man. And I found what looks like a great one — driving for one of the internet “it’s not a taxi” services. Absolutely flexible hours, requires only assets (vehicle) and skills (driving) I already possess, pays better than working for The Film Industry as an extra (oh, excuse me, background artist.) The catch? I needed to bite the bullet and get a Real Smartphone. One on which I could take calls, keep in touch with the ride agency, and navigate to destinations. All at the same time.
Now, I had a smartphone (sort of.) The Datachugger 665 (AKA a ZTE Valet from Tracfone) ran Android 4.1. It could make calls. It could receive texts. It could, if you stretched the definitions and were very patient, do the various things a smartphone is supposed to do — navigate by GPS, look up things on the Internet, check email, act as an ereader and as a music source — but vveerryy sslloowwllyy. Due to its tiny RAM (see note 1) and incredibly slow processor, it could do just one of these things at a time, if you weren’t in a rush. There was no way this thing was up to handling phone calls, fielding dispatches, and navigating for a ride service.
So, I looked around. My iPad is on Verizon, and wouldn’t you know it? Verizon was running a closeout on iPhone 5c. Starting Sept. 19, all 5c phones will have only 8GB of storage, and will be free. But if I bought last week, I could get a beautiful green iPhone with 32GB for $30. So, I placed my Internet order last Thursday (Sept. 11. How prophetic.)
First, Tracfone dragged its corporate heels on transferring my phone number to Verizon (not at all surprising. Number transfers — whether in to or out from, be prepared to spend a couple of hours on the Tracfone support line talking to folks for whom English is a second language.) So the whole thing was to be delayed until Monday (Sept. 14.)
OK, fine. I accept that the cheapness of Tracfone is reflected in the level of its customer service. Then the Verizon meltdown started. I received an email Monday afternoon stating that my iPhone 5c was out of stock, and they would get me a phone just as soon as stock was available.
The problem was, my Tracfone was dead, dead, dead. The number had transferred to Verizon Monday morning.
What the hell?? The iPhone models with more than 8GB are discontinued! There will be no more stock. So I was on the phone to Verizon Internet Sales. No, they had no stock, even though they’d sold me one. They were sure that they would be getting them in since the warehouse hadn’t told them it was being discontinued. Cursing mentally, but being very polite, I explained my lack of service and inability to wait until… whenever. I finally received a concession that if I called around to Verizon stores, I might find one in stock, and then cancel my internet order.
I ended up Monday afternoon at the Verizon store in Woodland Hills, where a very polite sales associate named Rami took 45 minutes to get my beautiful green iPhone activated and using my old number. He wouldn’t let me leave until my phone was both accepting and making calls. Woot!
You’d think that would be the end of the story — moral, don’t buy through Verizon’s Internet Store as they have no inventory control. But nnnoooOOOOoo! Monday evening and Tuesday were spent ordering cases, screen protectors and cable adapters, as well as recreating my iPad environment on the iPhone as best I could, but I rather expected that.
Wednesday was the attack of iOS 8. Yeah, I shot pretty much the whole day in downloading updates (plural — I have both iPad and iPhone now), installing updates, installing all the apps that kept releasing updates to try to cope with iOS 8, ad infinitum. And beyond.
So Thursday I went out to my favorite Starbucks to write, and found that:
- My favorite (non-Apple) browser had stopped using cellular data.
- My password vault had stopped using cellular data.
- My remote desktop client crashed every time I tried to connect to my Mac at home.
I gave up, and went home and wrote bug report emails. Lots of bug report emails.
At least it was writing.
Note 1: RAM as known in the personal computer world (as opposed to storage, which is what the 32GB is about) is almost never mentioned with respect to smartphones. This is because phones don’t have much RAM compared to desktop computers or laptops. But the Datachugger 665 was lobotomized even by smartphone standards.
Update 9/19/14 11:03 AM: Prompt responses both from the browser’s (iCab) and from the vault’s (LastPass) technical support have those apps up and running. Thanks, folks! The remote desktop (Splashtop) folks got back to me with notice that they’ve fixed the problem, and it’s in Apple’s queue to release the update. Those Apple app reviewers must be working around the clock overtime . . .